South Lake Tahoe 2009 top ten stories: 8) City labor disputes
Two high-profile labor disputes with the City of South Lake Tahoe came to an end in 2009 as South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Johnny Poland was reinstated and South Lake Tahoe City Attorney Jacqueline Mittelstadt returned to work.
An El Dorado County Superior Court Judge ruled in October that Poland should be reinstated.
Poland was embroiled in a more than two-year fight for his job after Police Chief Terry Daniels fired him in June 2007 for his alleged cover-up of a 2006 incident where a student brought a BB gun to South Tahoe High School.
The incident reached the courts after a January vote by the South Lake Tahoe City Council to appeal a December 2008 decision by a three-member hearing board. The board found Poland’s handling of the incident at the high school justified a six-week suspension and a stipulation he not be assigned a position that would increase his pay for 18 months.
Even in light of Poland’s past disciplinary record, the hearing board found the officer’s actions at the high school did not justify dismissal.
Mittelstadt returned to work in November after fighting for her job for two months.
In September the South Lake Tahoe City Council gave Mittelstadt a notice of intended removal from office, citing “incompatibility of management styles” and “work inconsistent with city expectations” as reasons for the possible removal from office. Allegations of complaints from city employees against Mittelstadt also entered the discussion during an October City Council meeting.
Mittelstadt defended herself against the allegations and the City Council balked at following through on the notice of intended removal at the October meeting.
As part of the settlement agreement finalized in September, Assistant City Attorney/Redevelopment Counsel Patrick Enright will take the lead at the City Attorney’s Office.
Mittelstadt’s $128,000 annual pay will remain the same, but her job title will change from “City Attorney” to “Assistant City Attorney,” according to the settlement agreement.
The agreement also bars Mittelstadt from speaking to the public or the press regarding city business unless directed to do so by Enright, and prohibits her from pursuing any legal action associated with her fight to stay employed at the city.
Mittelstadt will also be required to participate in counseling and training to enhance her “communication and interpersonal” skills as part of the agreement.
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